By KIMBERLIE NGABIT-QUITASOL
BAGUIO CITY — The Cordillera Women’s Education Action Research Center (CWEARC) and Indigenous Peoples Legal Center (Dinteg) raised alarm over the counter insurgency campaign of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) involving elementary and high school students.
“It is indeed alarming that Grade VI school children and high school students are being dragged into the counterinsurgency campaign of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP),” CWEARC Executive Director Vernie Yocogan-Diano statement read.
Diano and Dinteg Executive Director Rhoda Dalang talked to Baguio City Schools Division Superintendent Mary A. Lang-ayan and raised at least three concerns. Among the concerns raised were 1) the partnership of AFP and Department of Education (DepEd) on this counterinsurgency campaign is a contravention to International Human Rights and Humanitarian Laws, UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, RA 7610 and other laws on the protection of children; 2) children must be spared from the counter-insurgency campaign of the AFP and 3) the use of the “Knowing Thy Enemy” power point presentation of the AFP which vilify and directly attaches legal organizations like Gabriela, Bayan Muna, Cordillera Peoples Alliance as front organizations of the Communist Party of the Philippines/New People’s Army/National Democratic Front (CPP/NPA/NDF).
“This equation is precisely putting legal activist organizations in peril as we have seen in the systematic political killings of legal activists during Oplan Bantay Laya during the Macapagal-Arroyo administration and now Oplan Bayanihan under the government of PNoy,” the statement further read.
In the said talk, Lang-ayan admitted that she did not check the content of the AFP’s lecture and trusted that they will just discuss their institutional functions in its aim of recovering its public image.
She added that the lectures should be held outside class hours and with parent’s consent which however was not specified in the memo.
Lang-ayan also committed to pull out DepEd Baguio City Division Memorandum 68 issued last June 26 allowing AFP to conduct symposium in public schools.
“In the actual conduct as in the experience of the class of my daughter, the symposium, which is jointly conducted with the PNP (Philippine National Police), is actually conducted during the class hours (Hekasi period) and parent’s consent was not taken,” Diano pointed out.
In an interview, Dalang reiterated that children should not be included in the counter insurgency campaign of the AFP. “It is wrong to teach wrong ideas in schools,” she stressed.
She also condemned the AFP for its continuing vilification of legitimate peoples organizations. “We are not enemies of the state. We are not insurgents,” she reiterated.
She further said that the recent counter insurgency campaign using children only proves that its Oplan Bayanihan of the AFP is deceptive and is actually a continuation of Oplan Bantay Laya.
Memorandum 68 reads “The Charlie Company of the 5th Civil Military Operations Battalion, 5th Infantry Division, Philippine Army in coordination with the Department of Education (DepEd), will conduct a counter-insurgency campaign, a 1-hour symposium, in all public elementary and high schools in this Division starting July 1, 2012, Saturday. This is to enhance pupils’/students’ consciousness about the lies, deception and clandestine operation of the Communist Terrorist Movement”.
The said memorandum also identified Grade VI pupils and high school students as participants to the symposium. It also stated that symposiums for high school students will be scheduled on Saturdays while for elementary pupils it will be during their Hekasi periods. # nordis.net